For years, the public relations industry has been divided on the question of whether or not the press release is still a valuable tool. Our view is that press releases are still valuable – if they’re used properly.
If you plan to include press releases in your own PR strategy, check out the list below of the top three times it makes sense to use one.
1. Your company has news to announce.
The most common use of a press release is to announce news. Seems simple.
But, before jumping in and writing your news release, remember this: there is News, and there is “news”. To use a press release most effectively, stick to announcements that fall into the category of News.
Generally speaking, News is an announcement that your regular audiences would truly care about – something that might impact their interactions with your company. Such announcements could include: notable company hires, changes within your C-suite, the completion of significant investment rounds, new products or services, new data or survey results, winning an important award, or meaningful partnerships with other organizations. (This list is not, of course, exhaustive.)
A “news” announcement, on the other hand, tends to be fairly flimsy. Too often, companies use a press release to announce something that isn’t newsworthy at all. Hitting a milestone on social media or having your company featured in a magazine would be two examples of “news” announcements. Companies develop announcements around these types of topics for various reasons – SEO, adding content to the website – but it’s not an effective use of the press release format.
2. You need to control the message.
A press release is also useful in cases where you need to control a particular message.
Let’s say your long-time CEO is suddenly parting ways with your company. Whatever the reason behind his or her departure, it could benefit your company for you to be in control of the associated messaging. Develop a press release to announce the personnel change and use the release as a place to explain – in very deliberate language – why your CEO is leaving, and to answer any questions you anticipate employees, clients, investors, and others might have about the news.
This tactic helps in preventing a major company happening – like a CEO departure – from getting twisted, misunderstood, or misinterpreted, which can have a negative impact on your company.
3. Your executive wants to make a formal statement.
One more worthwhile use of a press release is to disseminate a formal statement by a company executive.
It’s a common practice for company leaders to comment on major or particularly noteworthy news events that impact their industry or their individual business. This can be done effectively and efficiently by using a formal press release.
A press release that announces an executive statement is typically brief: an introductory paragraph to provide context, followed by the statement itself. Include boilerplate language at the end, as usual, and, if it feels necessary, you can include a brief concluding paragraph.
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